After a strong showing at the Henlopen Conference championships last week, local wrestling squads, including Indian River and Sussex Central high schools, followed up by sending a collective six wrestlers to the DIAA state individual championship finals, held at Dover High School on Saturday, Feb. 25.
For the Indians, it was freshman Will Rayne making it all the way to the finals of the 106-pound bracket, eventually earning himself a second-place finish after being taken down by Salesianum’s Zach Spence in a 10-6 decision.
Spence entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, while Rayne earned the No. 2 seed when he clinched IRHS’s first Henlopen Conference individual title since 2010 at the HAC championships held at Sussex Central last weekend.
The Golden Knights saw two individual state championships on the night, when junior Rashad Stratton edged Charter’s Jesse Muaka for the state title in a 7-6 decision.
Coming off a Henlopen Conference championship, Central senior Blake Chambers also earned himself a state title, defeating Smyrna’s Larsen Wilson 5-1 in the 170 finals.
At 160, Central senior Brandon Bautista and Cape Henlopen senior Cory Lawson went head to head in a rematch of the Henlopen championship finals, with Lawson again pulling a close win in a 6-4 decision.
Lawson earned a state title at 160 last year, while Bautista was the state champion at 152.
Somewhat surprisingly, the 182 finals did not come down to a Henlopen Conference championship rematch between Sussex Central senior Lucas Hudson and Indian River senior Zeke Marcozzi — the state tournament’s No. 1- and No. 2-seeded wrestlers at 182, respectively.
After Marcozzi was knocked out of the semi-finals by No. 3 seed Austin Clayton of St. Georges Tech, Clayton would advance to the finals, where he took down Hudson in a 7-3 decision and earned the state title.
Hudson finished second on the day, while Marcozzi would finish fourth, capping his Indian River High School wrestling career with a school-record 133 wins.
Other top finishes for the Golden Knights included senior Johnny Morris taking second in the 220 finals after falling in a 5-1 decision to Caravel’s Keith Medley.